The lesson was bottle rockets

On Wednesday, July 15, 48 students participating in a Northeastern summer program found out science can really be a blast. To learn more about the mechanics of space travel, they got to launch bottle rockets high into the air.

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp brings Boston-area middle schoolers with an interest in math and science to Northeastern for two weeks of interactive—and fun—activities. Besides gaining knowledge in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the kids also get to see what life is like on a college campus.

On bottle rocket day, the students, working in teams of three, used their science skills to fashion duct tape and 2-liter soda bottles into rockets.

Sixteen were launched on the football field behind the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, in Roxbury. The winning team, which called itself M.I.A., constructed a rocket that stayed in the air for 6.4 seconds and landed on the sidewalk across the street. (To see a video from the bottle rocket launch, click on the following link:

Other hands-on camp activities include studying microbes, and building and testing the strength of bridges.

The program, free to students, is staffed by faculty, administrators and students from the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences, and the Center for STEM Education.

“We received well over 100 applications for 48 spots this year,” says Claire Duggan, director for programs, partnerships and operations at the Center for STEM Education. “We hope the program encourages each child toward a future that includes a career in the STEM fields.”

The summer science camp is offered at more than thirty campuses around the country. Northeastern was selected as a camp host because of its long-standing commitment to supporting and promoting math and science education for local youth.